America's biggest landlord is also a ponzi scheme

Blackstone owns over 300,000 rental units. It also hates rent control laws. So after spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat a rent control law, they then proceeded to do exactly what you would suspect, and stuck it to renters with rent hikes and increased evictions.
Blackstone is actually doubling-down on buying single-family homes to rent, jacking up those rents, and kicking families to the curb. All in the name of increasing cash flow. You might be thinking that causing pain and suffering in order to increase profits is a winning strategy for a Wall Street private equity firm, and normally you would be right. But like Enron's infamous Death Star and Ricochet strategies, there are economic limits to capitalist greed that no amount of pain and suffering can satisfy. People are starting to notice.

Since its inception, the fund says it has delivered an annualized net return of 10.5% — almost double an index of publicly traded REITs. Even as commercial real estate has been battered in the wake of the pandemic, BREIT has somehow managed to defy gravity, outperforming comparable funds by seemingly fantastic margins. In the fall of 2022, after the Fed's interest-rate increases began to shake the commercial real-estate market, investors began asking for their money back — more than $15 billion to date. Faced with a run on the fund, Blackstone cited a provision that allowed it to take its time refunding antsy investors — a decision that only served to further alarm the market. Shares in Blackstone tumbled by nearly 20%. Last year, BREIT failed to generate enough cash to cover its annual dividend...
the returns the fund claims it has delivered depend almost entirely on BREIT's own estimates, which skeptics believe are wildly inflated. What's more, when BREIT faced a flood of redemption requests from investors, it only fulfilled all those requests after raising cash from new investors — including one that received a sweetheart deal from Blackstone to invest in BREIT. "It is the absolute definition of a Ponzi scheme," said Nate Koppikar, who runs a hedge fund called Orso Partners that has shorted Blackstone's stock because of concerns over BREIT.

Hmmm. Fantastic returns that defy the overall market. Mark-to-make believe accounting. Using new accounts to pay for redemption requests. Where have I heard this before? Oh yeh. Enron. And it gets worse.

In its own fine print, in fact, BREIT does provide several other measures that are more analogous to how most REITS define cash flow; by those measures, the fund has never been able to cover its dividend from its cash flow... not being able to pay the dividend you've promised can be seen as a Ponzi-ish warning, because it means the money has to come from selling off assets, borrowing money, or attracting new investors — a reality that BREIT acknowledges on the third page of its financial documents (and one that the SEC has noted as a risk factor for all private REITS). And if you subtract Blackstone's fees, BREIT has covered less than 50% of its dividend distribution since its inception.

When things began to get shaky in 2022, Blackstone went to the University of California retirement fund and gave them a very sweet deal in exchange for $4 billion in pension money. But even that might not save Blackstone this time.

Blackstone owes the University of California twice as much as it did last quarter as part of a complex transaction to shore up its flagship real estate fund.

The world’s largest alternative asset manager promised UC an 11.25 per cent annual return from the property fund, called Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, or Breit, as part of a deal to draw $4.5bn in new investment. But as the fund lost value last year, Blackstone’s liability to UC has grown to $560mn.

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Titans of Wall Street often believe that their brilliance should insulate them from skepticism. Their supreme confidence in their own wisdom is perhaps their most marketable asset.

It's worth remembering, as Chilton notes, that private funds like BREIT were among "the biggest losers" during the global financial crisis of 2008. But that lesson seems lost on today's investors, who have once again flocked to private real-estate funds in a time of extreme market volatility. In the two years after the pandemic hit, private funds like BREIT raised $67 billion — far more than they drummed up in the two years leading up to the Great Recession. "While the tombstones may have different names on them," Chilton observes, "the reasons for the demise of private equity real estate players are going to rhyme, and possibly mirror those from the global financial crisis."

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usefewersyllables's picture

capitalism itself is essentially a Ponzi scheme at its core- only the people who get in first will ever get paid, and late arrivals will all get bled. So that should come as no surprise.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

What is the relationship between Blackstone and Blackrock?

Should I be excited/relieved/jubilant? Is this the Ultimate Corporate Globalitarian SuperCancer finally crumbling from it's feet of clay up??!

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In the Land of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man is declared mentally ill for describing colors.

Yes Virginia, there is a Global Banking Conspiracy!